While plenty of THON children are over at the Bryce Jordan Center enjoying the Saturday afternoon events, a group was also the Lasch Building along with some members of the football team to tour the locker room and enjoy an ice cream social.
Christian Hackenberg, Zach Zwinak, Sam Ficken, Miles Dieffenbach, and a slew of teammates hosted about 20 THON families at Lasch. They got a chance to check out the team’s digs, play around in the locker room, stop by the conditioning room, and more.
From trying on player’s equipment, to getting autographs from their favorites, to playing with the Nittany Lion, the Four Diamonds kids in attendance at the Make-A-Wish event were all smiles as they socialized with the team.
“It’s definitely interesting to take the kids in the weight room because they have so much fun,” Jesse Della Valle said. “It puts a smile on my face to give back to them and be able to build relationships with these families. I know this is something that’s really important to the team. It’s awesome every year. My first year, I was so taken back by it. There are so many families that are so supportive of us and we’re just doing the same for them.”
Equipment manager Spider Caldwell stopped to address the crowd in the locker room briefly, telling the families that he has been here for 31 years and he knows that this is a day and event that the players look forward to about as much as anything they do as a team:
The highlight of the event might have come at the end of the ice cream social when one THON child took advantage of a broken chair in the team’s film room, pranking a number of players by asking them to come sit next to him for a photo. Among the many victims were Zwinak and Anthony Zettel.
“It’s so nice to give back,” Nyeem Wartman said. “Seeing these kids out here, they have cancer and they’re out here smiling. I mean, we’re talking about cancer. It helps you recognize that you should just appreciate life.”